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Cup champion Bruins won't suffer same free agency fate as Blackhawks

Here's the best news of all, perhaps, for Boston Bruins fans: This team won't be blown up the way the Chicago Blackhawks were a year ago.

Somewhat dampening the Cup celebration last summer in Chicago was the necessary and painful offseason roster shake-up forced by the salary cap.

Rich, new contracts kicking in for the likes of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, among other factors, forced a massive overhaul of the 2010 Cup-champion squad, as nearly half the team was jettisoned to new locales, including key players such as Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg.

But that won't be the case for this fellow Original Six Cup champ.

Only three players are headed for unrestricted free agency in Beantown after Mark Recchi's post-Game 7 retirement announcement: Michael Ryder, Tomas Kaberle and Shane Hnidy. Kaberle, given his less-than-stellar postseason, surely can't be a fit unless he takes a discount. Even then, I'm not sure the Bruins have that much interest in bringing him back.

In the end, none of these guys are top-end, core players. The B's will survive with or without them.

Only one restricted free agent is on the roster, but he's a key one: Brad Marchand. The super pest, who scored clutch goals in the playoffs and especially in the Cup finals, doesn't have much leverage, though, because he's coming off an entry-level contract and doesn't have salary-arbitration rights. Still, he'll get a nice raise on the $821,667 cap hit he had this season.

Whether Marc Savard decides to retire because of his serious concussion issues also may affect payroll. He has six more years on the docket at $4.007 million a year, although as long as he is out, the Bruins can go over the cap using his salary. Otherwise, the Bruins squad that won the Cup this season will be largely back for next season and beyond.

The same cannot be said for the Cup-finalist Vancouver Canucks.

They are looking at eight players who are bound to become UFAs on July 1, four of them blueliners in Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo and Andrew Alberts. The other four unrestricted free agents are forwards Raffi Torres, Christopher Higgins, Tanner Glass and Jeff Tambellini. There are also two restricted free agents in Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre.

Bieksa, who had a terrific postseason, should be the team's top priority. Most people assume that if Bieksa is re-signed, Ehrhoff will hit the UFA market, although a source told us during the Cup finals that the Canucks believe they have a plan in place where they could bring back both players.

Having said that, Ehrhoff and Bieksa would have to take less-than-market money to stay on. That would have been easier to do after a Cup championship. Will they be that interested in doing so after how things ended up against Boston? On the flip side, one can argue that they might be hungry in coming back to finish the job.

Meanwhile, the Canucks have four more years of Keith Ballard on the books at $4.2 million per season. Yikes. This is the same Ballard who couldn't crack the depleted lineup in the final three games of the championship series. On the one hand, you'd say Ballard was impossible to trade, but if young goalie Cory Schneider was part of that deal, you might find a taker.

Of course, the Canucks have to make sure they want to deal Schneider (earning $900,000 next season in last year of his deal) as planned this summer given how Roberto Luongo ended his Cup finals. Luongo is signed through the 2021-22 season at a $5.33 million cap hit. Then again, is he tradable right now?

The Bruins can largely relax and enjoy the party this summer. The Canucks have work to do.